Thursday, September 1, 2005

Are Dead Bodies Really Dangerous?

This is from Slate, which usually has an unusual take on things.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told the press yesterday that "we know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water" and warned that thousands in the city may have died during Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding. Do these dead bodies pose a threat to the survivors? In August 1999, David Plotz explained that decomposing corpses are "only a danger to public health if the victim dies of an infectious disease," and that the threat posed by the bodies of victims of trauma -- —typically the major cause of death in natural disasters -- —is "negligible."
The original article on the health threats of decomposing bodies, published in 1999 after the earthquake in Turkey, is here.
News reports covering the earthquake in Turkey have emphasized the health dangers posed by the decomposing bodies of its victims. The Turkish government is digging mass graves, and Muslim clerics have suspended Islamic burial rules so that the country can dispose of corpses more quickly. Do these bodies endanger public health?
Technorati Tags: Corpses, Natural Disasters, Slate

No comments: